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Amberg, George (28 December 1901–27 July 1971), professor of film and dance critic, was born Hans Aschaffenburg in Halle, Germany, the son of Gustav Aschaffenburg, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist, and Maja Nebel. He was educated in Davos, Switzerland, from 1916 to 1918, at a fashionable boys’ private high school where the kaiser sent his children, and also in Cologne, Munich, and Kiel. In 1923 he founded Cassette, the avant-garde theater in Cologne, and was also a stage director there. From 1924 to 1928 he worked in theatrical festivals with noted German director Gustav Hurtung, first as a dramaturge and play director at the Cologne Theatre, then in 1926 at the Heidelberg Theatre Festival, and thereafter in 1927–1928 as director in the Darmstadt Theatre. Amberg earned his doctorate in December 1930 from the University of Cologne on the German novelist Theodor Fontane as critic. He was also a lecturer and member of the drama department at the university. From 1930 to 1933 Amberg helped to organize the University of Cologne’s theater museum and also established and directed its film library and institute. His published writings from this period concerned the subject of dance. He was a contributing editor on dance to the Ullstein and Herder encyclopedias. Amberg also gave visiting lectures in Berlin, Frankfurt, Zurich, and Basel. He established a cabaret as well, which was usually considered a low-class entertainment venue, but his was experimental theater that included all of the arts....

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Blake, Harrison Gray Otis (10 April 1816–18 April 1898), teacher and editor, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of Francis Blake, a successful lawyer, and Elizabeth Augusta Chandler. His father’s death before Blake’s first birthday sharply reduced the family’s living standard. Blake graduated from Harvard College in 1835, ranking fourth and giving the Latin Salutatory Oration. Three years’ study in Harvard’s Divinity School ensued, during which he encountered the religious and ethical philosophy of the Transcendentalists. In 1838 a committee of Blake and two senior theology classmates invited ...

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Colby, Gertrude Kline (1875?–01 February 1960), dance educator, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her parents’ names and occupations are unknown. While little is known of her childhood, Colby was reportedly interested in physical activities from an early age. She began her higher education with a brief stint at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine (dates unknown). In 1910 she attended Harvard University for the first of four summer sessions led by ...

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Eaton, Walter Prichard (24 August 1878–26 February 1957), critic, theater educator, and author, was born in Malden, Massachusetts, the son of Warren Everett Eaton, a schoolmaster, and Mary Prichard. His lifelong involvement in theater arts was kindled in his formative years by viewing performances of actors such as ...

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Flanagan, Hallie Mae Ferguson (27 August 1890–23 July 1969), theater educator, administrator, and director, was born in Redfield, South Dakota, the daughter of Frederic Miller Ferguson, a businessman, and Louisa Fischer. Throughout her childhood, Hallie’s father encouraged her to believe in her uniqueness and individual potential, while her mother instilled in her a selflessness of putting others before herself. These conflicting ideas would haunt Hallie throughout her life as she tried to balance a career and a family. She sometimes believed she had failed as a wife and mother because she had devoted too much of herself to her career....

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Gassner, John Waldhorn (30 January 1903–02 April 1967), critic, educator, and author, was born in Szeged, Hungary, the son of Abraham Gassner, a furrier, and Fanny Weinburger. Until age eight he was educated at home while the family moved to Budapest, Vienna, and Rotterdam, emigrating to the United States in 1911....

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H’Doubler, Margaret Newell (26 April 1889–26 March 1982), dance educator, was born in Beloit, Kansas, the daughter of Charles Hougen-Doubler, a photographer and inventor, and Sarah Todd. H’Doubler (a shortened form of her father’s Swiss name) grew up in a well-to-do family that could offer her a good education and exposure to classical music and the other arts. In high school in Madison, Wisconsin (where the family resettled in 1903), she participated in sports and took classes in Dalcroze eurythmics, a movement-based approach to music training. She attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison from 1906 to 1910, graduating with a biology major and a philosophy minor. During her undergraduate years she took part in a variety of physical education activities including sports, particularly basketball and swimming, and dancing based on the ...

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Hamilton, Clayton (14 November 1881–17 September 1946), educator and drama critic, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of George Alexander Hamilton, a merchant, and Susan Amelia Corey. Christened Clayton Meeker Hamilton, he deleted his middle name before he reached age twenty-one. His interest in a life of letters began during his youth. He received a B.A. from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1900 and an M.A. from Columbia University in 1901. Hamilton married Gladys Coates in 1913; they had two children....

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Hovey, Henrietta (06 April 1849–16 March 1918), Delsartean teacher, was born Henriette Knapp in Cooperstown, New York, the daughter of Edgar Knapp and Catharine Tyler. Hovey’s lifelong interest in clothing reform is traced to an early experience when a doctor, to combat her frailty and ill-health, prescribed loose-fitting garb that would allow easy breathing and free motion. By her early twenties, Hovey was designing her own unique uncorseted costumes—subtly colored flowing gowns that became her hallmark—and lecturing on the aesthetic and health aspects of dress. To improve her speech for such presentations, she entered the Boston School of Oratory in the early 1870s where she was introduced to the system of expression developed by François Delsarte (1811–1871), a French theorist and teacher of acting, voice, and aesthetics. Delsarte’s theory was an elaborate derivation of his personal interpretation of the Christian Trinity and featured particular attention to the relationship between body, mind, and spirit in the practical work of expression in any of the arts. Hovey’s interests expanded to include physical culture and expression, and she traveled to Paris where she met Delsarte’s widow and studied with his son Gustave before the latter’s death in February 1879. In the late 1860s or 1870s she married Edward B. Crane; their son was born on 21 April, probably in 1878—possibly in 1867....

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Hume, Samuel James (14 June 1885–01 September 1962), scene designer, director, and educator, was born in Berkeley, California, the son of James Bunyan Hume, a law enforcement officer, and Linda Murison. He attended the University of California at Berkeley and became interested in theater. Before completing his degree, Hume went to Europe to study scene design under one of the most outspoken visionaries of the early twentieth century stage, Edward Gordon Craig. Craig insisted that the modern theater had become mired in what he called “photographic realism.” He proposed a visual theater that merged action, scene, and voice with scenic pictures that heightened the emotional aspects of the play. Hume studied for nearly a year at Craig’s Arena Goldoni School in Florence, Italy, before the outbreak of World War I forced the closing of the school. However, the influence of Craig on Hume was significant enough for him to return to the United States a confirmed devotee of Craig’s theories. It became Hume’s goal to bring the “New Stagecraft,” which was becoming predominant in Europe, to his homeland....

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Levenson, Sam (28 December 1911–27 August 1980), comedian, author, and educator, was born Samuel Levenson in New York City, the son of Hyman Levenson, a tailor, and Rebecca Fishelman. Levenson attended Brooklyn College (now part of the City University of New York), graduating with a B.A. in 1934. From that year until 1946 he taught Spanish in Brooklyn high schools, also serving as a guidance counselor for the final five years. In 1936 he married his childhood sweetheart, Esther Levine, with whom he had two children. His former students and academic advisees still remember him as a warm and funny teacher who took a personal interest in them and their future....

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Macgowan, Kenneth (30 November 1888–27 April 1963), drama critic, director/producer, and theater educator, was born in Winthrop, Massachusetts, the son of Peter Stainforth Macgowan and Susan Arletta Hall. Before he graduated from Harvard in 1911 he was already working as an assistant drama critic for the ...

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Mackay, Constance D’Arcy (1887–21 August 1966), playwright, director, and educator, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the only child of Robert S. Mackay, a realtor, and Anne D'Arcy. Mackay lived with her parents in Minnesota until she was fifteen; she traveled extensively in Europe during her childhood and was educated in both public and private schools. In 1903 Mackay enrolled as a special student (a student that is not working toward a degree or plans to graduate) at Boston University. Mackay's years at the college were productive. Between 1903 and 1905, she penned the first commencement play ever produced at the college, ...

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Mansfield, Portia (19 November 1887–29 January 1979), dance educator, choreographer, and camp director, was born Portia Mansfield Swett in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Edward R. Swett, a hotelkeeper, and Myra Mansfield. She received her early schooling in Winter Park, Florida, where the family moved in 1899, and, after another move, in New York City at Miss Morgan’s School for Girls (1903–1906). As a child, she danced for her own pleasure and, occasionally, for hotel guests. Entering Smith College in 1906, she majored in philosophy and psychology but also was exposed to the Delsarte System of Expression and gravitated toward the physical education department. She was instrumental in organizing a dancing class at Smith. Classmates remembered her clouds of red hair, her lissomeness and grace, and her vivacity....

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Matthews, Brander (21 February 1852–31 March 1929), author, scholar, and teacher, was born James Brander Matthews in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Edward Matthews, a prosperous broker in cotton, real estate, and railroads, and Virginia Brander. Educated privately in Europe and in New York City, where his father settled the family when Matthews was seven, he received his B.A. (1871) and M.A. (1874) from Columbia College. In 1873 Matthews married British actress Ada S. Smith; they had one daughter. That same year, he completed a law degree at Columbia, in preparation for managing the fortune he would inherit. However, when the financial panic of 1873 destroyed the family wealth, Matthews was left largely free to pursue his literary interests, particularly his enthusiasm for the theater. Although he worked for several years as a lawyer in his father’s New York City office, he devoted what time he could to studying, writing, and reviewing drama. “From my youth up, my strongest literary ambition was to write plays,” Matthews recalled in his autobiography, ...

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Morgan, Anna (24 February 1851–27 August 1936), speech and drama teacher, was born in Fleming, New York, the daughter of Allen Denison Morgan, a gentleman farmer, and Mary Jane Thornton. After the death of her father in 1876, Anna moved with her family to Chicago, where she studied elocution at the Hershey School of Music. She soon earned a local reputation as a dramatic reader with a naturalistic approach that contrasted with the current fashion of more stilted and stylized speech. Her repertoire included selections from plays by Shakespeare, Schiller, and Maurice Maeterlinck, and poetry by authors that ranged from Robert Browning to ...

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Odell, George C. D. (19 March 1866–17 October 1949), theatrical scholar and college professor, was born George Clinton Densmore Odell in Newburgh, New York, the son of Benjamin Barker Odell, a businessman who served as mayor of the town, and Ophelia Bookstaver. His older brother Benjamin Odell, Jr., served as governor of New York state from 1900 to 1904. George received his early education at Siglar Preparatory School in Newburgh and went to Columbia University, his choice of colleges being largely dictated by his desire to be close to the New York theater scene. He completed his B.A. in 1889, his M.A. in 1890, and his Ph.D. in 1893; both graduate degrees were in the field of literature. His study of English and Scottish ballads was published during the final year of work on his doctorate, and a little later he became the editor of school editions of ...

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Price, William Thompson (17 December 1846–03 May 1920), author, teacher, and drama critic, was born in Jefferson County, Kentucky, the son of Joseph Crocket Price, an attorney, and Susan Meade. He left public school in his teens to join the Confederate cavalry during the Civil War, serving with the raiders of ...